Volcanoes and sharks are two of nature’s most powerful and extreme forces, and they are both terrifying and fascinating. The combination of the two would only happen in a cheap science fiction movie, right? wrong. Stranger things have certainly happened, but this could be the first of many. “Sharkcano” isn’t just the name of a campy summer movie. It’s the name of a real phenomenon discovered by scientists on an expedition in 2015 when they found sharks living in one of the world’s most active underwater volcanoes. But how can sharks survive in a volcano? For now, these and several other “Sharkcano” research questions remain unclear. However, people around the world are fascinated by the interesting geomorphological feature, which includes sharks roaming around a dangerous lava-spewing vent. This article takes a look at the true story behind volcano sharks and other interesting facts.
What is Kavachi Volcano?
The Solomon Islands are home to the infamous “Sharkcano”, also known as the Kavachi Volcano. The sea god “Kavachi” inspired the name of this volcano and is also known in the islands as “Rejo te Kvachi” or “Kavachi’s Oven”. Kavachi is a submarine volcano in the Pacific Ocean that is one of the most active on Earth. The volcano’s first officially recorded eruption occurred in 1939 and has been erupting continuously since then.
During its known existence, Kavachi has formed a handful of small islands scattered up to a kilometer in length. On the other hand, the waves of the ocean have always eroded and washed away these islands. It also creates beautiful phreatomagmatic eruptions, where superheated magma collides with water, resulting in powerful, steamy explosions. No one knows how many times Kavachi explodes. Even if it doesn’t spew lava, the ash and steam that rise to the surface can be too much for divers to handle. Those approaching the volcano’s rim have been forced to retreat due to the heat of the acidic water or minor skin burns.
An international team avoided this risk by sending underwater robots with underwater cameras to investigate Kavachi’s hostile environment. Despite the harsh conditions, they discovered a variety of animals in Kavachi, including jellyfish, crabs, stingrays and sharks. Their 2015 expedition identified two shark species, hammerhead sharks and silky sharks, and active microbial ecosystems living in the volcano’s crater, earning it the nickname “Sharkcano.” According to the researchers, Kavachi is a “fascinating natural laboratory” that “remains full of secrets to discover.”
Can sharks really survive in a volcano?
As you might expect, the harsh environmental conditions of an underwater volcano are not particularly friendly to marine life. In fact, the lava from the Kavachi volcano is both andesitic and basaltic and contains silica, iron and magnesium. The water around the volcano is hot, corrosive and muddy with sulfuric and volcanic particles. Any fish, shark or other aquatic species would suffer under these conditions. Is it possible that sharks exist in such a harsh environment?
Yes, sharks can be found in an underground volcano. Sharks don’t seem to mind the murky waters around volcanoes. It’s even ideal for these hulking ocean predators. Sharks continue to hunt, even though other fish can’t see well in this dark environment. Sharks have a secret weapon: “ampoules of Lorenzini”, electroreceptors that detect electric fields in the water. One of the world’s most enduring marine mysteries is how, why and how many sharks there are in the volcano. It’s so baffling, and scientists are baffled, believing that sharks must have evolved to survive.
How do sharks locate underwater volcanoes?
The iron in volcanic lava is extremely magnetic. Sharks can detect and use Earth’s magnetic fields to travel across the expanse of the ocean. The ability of sharks to sense magnetic fields is still a mystery to scientists. However, since electricity and magnetic fields typically go hand in hand, their ampoules of Lorenzini may play a role in this magnetic susceptibility. Sharks can use the lava flows of volcanic islands and submarine volcanoes as a navigation aid.
Volcanoes provide a welcome retreat amid the immense expanse of the ocean. Since they contain lush reefs that provide shelter and shelter for various marine animals, volcanic islands provide great feeding grounds for sharks.
What do sharks do when volcanoes erupt?
The presence of huge animals in the volcano’s crater raises the question of whether they can foresee an impending eruption. Sharks are sensitive to the ocean’s electric fields and the Earth’s magnetic fields, and their enhanced senses are also likely to warn them of impending volcanic eruptions. After all, many animals can detect an impending earthquake for days in advance, so a raging volcano is nothing new.
These sharks only cool off in significantly hotter and more corrosive water. As a result, one can only speculate about the harsh environment in which these species have adapted over millions of years. Sharks are undeniably tough creatures, going where only a few other animals would venture. Even with our technological advancements, people cannot enter such places safely. Rest assured that until these questions are answered, the Kavachi volcano sharks will continue to fascinate us all.
What other animals live in Kavachi?
The team kept a safe distance while the cameras were deployed deep inside the volcano. But they faced many surprises. The scientists were initially ecstatic to see a stingray gracefully swimming in the volcano’s ash plumes in the images. However, they were pleasantly delighted to observe hammerheads and silky sharks in their numbers.
Later, while reviewing additional camera footage, they discovered something odd on one of the thumbnails, which was huge, brown, and “blob-like.” The explorers were somewhat surprised to discover what turned out to be a huge Pacific sleeper shark. The Pacific and Atlantic Oceans and areas of Antarctica and Tasmania are home to this rarely seen shark, and it was discovered near the base of the volcano. Pacific sleeper sharks can reach a maximum length of 7 meters (23 feet). They swim quietly due to their size and with little exercise which adds to their hunting ability.